The Indonesia Warriors are just one road win away from wrapping up their first Asean Basketball League title.
The Warriors and the San Miguel Beermen of the Philippines are knotted at 1-1 in the best-of-three ABL finals with the decisive third game on Saturday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, in Metro Manila.
Whoever wins will be crowned the new champion of the regional league. The Philippine Patriots won the inaugural season in 2010, while the Thailand Slammers took the title last season.
The Beermen won a tight first game 86-83 in Manila two weeks ago but the Warriors bounced back and took an 81-61 home win in Jakarta last week to force a final showdown.
Despite winning by 20 points at home, coach Todd Purves expects a tough away game, especially as they have never beaten the Beermen on their home turf.
“It will be our toughest challenge of the year,” Purves said on Friday. “The Beermen are an excellent team and are very well coached. It’s definitely harder to win on the road. We’ll have to have extreme focus. We must take better care of the ball and make free throws. I will also need the same type of production from the bench.”
Purves, who just received the ABL Coach of the Year award, made some adjustments in that second game to get more production from his bench.
He played Jerick Canada and Arki Dikania Wisnu in the first quarter and they responded with nine and seven points respectively. The Warriors bench had 24 points in the win.
“We’ve made some minor adjustments, including keeping some fresh legs down the stretch. We need the full 40 minutes to beat this team because in Game 1, we played a good 35 minutes and lost the game,” Purves said.
With fresher legs on the court in Jakarta, the Warriors shot 48 percent from the field and grabbed 37 rebounds, compared to a 39 percent shooting percentage and 21 rebounds for the Philippine squad.
But Beermen coach Bobby Parks is confident that his side will bounce back from the loss in Game 2.
“Sometimes when you lose by three [points], it’s not a wake-up call to the players, who might think ‘oh, that was close and we could have still won.’ But when you get drubbed by like 20 points, now there’s a tendency for pride to come into play and you have to bounce back because they really beat us, we were out of the game totally,” Parks told the ABL website on Friday.